One of the best things about Chicago is the abundance of Italian restaurants. They generally fall into two categories: grandma’s Italian comfort food and fine Italian dining. Taylor street is home to many of the greats, but there are plenty of noteworthy Italian restaurants sprinkled around the city. This upscale rustic restaurant is nestled among a pocket of gems right in Fulton Market just across from Girl and the Goat.
The Place: Vivo; 838 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL
Vivo is quite the romantic setting. Exposed brick walls are lined with bottles of wine. It is small, quaint and cozy, but feels glamorous. This is the place to take someone you want to impress. Especially if that someone is familiar with the Taylor Street scene. Some Chicagoans really think there is no Italian outside of Little Italy, but Vivo proves that is just not true. If you want to be the ultimate romantic, try to reserve the single private table at the top of the converted elevator shaft. You will be among the ranks of Oprah and Michael Jordan who have dined in this exclusive spot. I have no idea how far in advance you would have to make that reservation, so plan ahead if you are the grand-romantic-gesture type. If you are planning a proposal, make sure she will say yes, because there are no words for the awkward situation you would be in stuck up there all alone.
Okay the food. Vivo means alive or living and the food will definitely make you glad you are alive. Get the bread and oil service. It is probably the best one I have ever had. And I have been very loyal to Francesca’s on that one until now. Also, pay attention to their specials. I thought I knew what I wanted until I heard the specials and then I wanted all of the specials too! I ended up with a seasonal risotto with sea scallops served in a pumpkin! Aesthetic touches always make food taste better, but I think it would have been just as amazing in a normal bowl. The Linguini alla Polpa di Granchino, black linguini with crab meat in a spicy peperoncini sauce, was also amazing. I definitely want to go back and try the gnocchi in parmesan cream and black truffle sauce. We were too full for dessert, which I definitely regret. When I go back, I will be ordering dessert first.
The wine menu is extensive as it should be, because I thought this place was called Vino for the three or four weeks before I tried to make a reservation. Our server helped us pick out a great chianti. They also have a pretty good prosecco and import a sizable selection of beers from Italy. I highly recommend waiting for your table at their bar.
Some things to consider: While Italian cooking generally brings large groups together, a smaller more intimate meal is the way to go at Vivo. I don’t think they could accommodate more than 6 people in one party very well. Also, since it is small, your reservation time might be more of a ballpark until the people before you leave. Definitely make a reservation though.
For more information: http://www.vivo-chicago.com/homepage-2